In the Oregonian's recent coverage of the LaMama pop-up, food critic Michael Russell included a fascinating bit of rumormongering: chef Sam Smith, the former sous chef from Ava Gene's who runs LaMama with Nora Antene and Wesley Johnson, may take over the lease at 2448 E Burnside, the former home to celebrated Levant restaurant, one of the saddest closings of 2015. Russell writes:
Post pop-up, Smith plans to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant that builds off his work at LaMama, perhaps as soon as this summer. When that happens, expect to see some familiar names attached, including Antene, Johnson, and a reunion with Ava Gene's Executive Chef Joshua McFadden. The most likely location? The East Burnside space once home to Levant.
Like Levant, LaMama serves dishes inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. Antene is the current pastry chef at Le Pigeon, and Johnson led the kitchen of Cafe Castagna until last fall. Smith and Johnson cooked together at Philadelphia's Zahav, one of the nation's best-known Israeli restaurants, and LaMama was born from a trip to Morocco that Smith and Johnson took earlier this year.
LaMama is currently serving $50 dinners in Peter Cho's Han Oak commisary kitchen (511 NE 24th Ave.) Fridays, until March 25. Grab tickets—you may even be able to reserve a spot for tonight's dinner at 7 p.m.—through the website. Antene tells Eater wine is available for purchase and LaMama caters to dietary restrictions.
So far, the rumor that chef Smith will move into Levant is unconfirmed. Antene says that after March 25, LaMama "will continue to do dinners at least once a week, possibly at different locations or on different days of the week."